Year : 2020 | Volume
: 3 | Issue : 2 | Page : 35--36
Immunomodulators in Siddha system of medicine
Central Council for Research in Siddha, Ministry of Ayush, Govt. of India, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Dr. K Kanakavalli
Central Council for Research in Siddha, Ministry of Ayush, Govt. of India, Arumbakkam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
|How to cite this article:|
Kanakavalli K. Immunomodulators in Siddha system of medicine.J Res Siddha Med 2020;3:35-36
|How to cite this URL:|
Kanakavalli K. Immunomodulators in Siddha system of medicine. J Res Siddha Med [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Oct 6 ];3:35-36
Available from: http://www.jrsm.in/text.asp?2020/3/2/35/346338
The quest is increasing day by day for improving immunity amongst the general public during the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been a considerable rise in the marketing of immune-boosting products as well as health awareness of the dietary prospects in improving one’s immunity.
In Siddha, the word Vanmai is implied to denote immunity, vitality, and vigor. It is classified into natural, acquired, and seasonal immunity. The immunity is controlled by interplay of three humors (Muthodam), optimal digestive fire, and dietary habits (unavathy seyalgal). Defense against infection is shaped by the genetic factors and is expressed as morphological attributes of Udaliyal. Siddha emphasizes that development of acquired immunity in an individual depends upon (1) adequate nutritional supplementation, (2) optimization of digestion, (3) Kayakarpam (Herbs, Siddhar Yogam, Pranayamam), (4) routine lifestyle (Pinianuga vithi), and (5) Siddha medicines in biomedicine.
Immunity is defined by one’s ability to produce antibodies in response to the disease-causing pathogens. It is explained under two broad categories, humoral––taking place in body fluids (humors) working with antibody and complement activities; and cellular immunity––involving T lymphocytes triggering inflammatory response through secretion of cytokines and chemokines. Both types of immune responses are stimulated by lymphocytes.
Siddha herbs are found to boost blood lymphocytes, the basic building blocks of immune system. For example, research in Glycyrrhiza glabra L. (Adhimathuram/Licorice) proves that it helps in proliferation of CD4 T cells, CD8 T cells and Natural Killer cells’ activation. Glycyrrhizin, the primary active ingredient of Glycyrrhiza glabra L. potently inhibits in-vitro replication of SARS-CoV-2 by blocking viral enzyme Protease Mpro. This resonates with the Siddha drug, Adhimathuram mathirai’s significant role in relieving symptoms (by attenuating the acute lung injury) and prompting early recovery during treatment.
Earlier, administration of RAN therapy (Rasagandhi mezhugu, Amukkara chooranam, and Nellikkai legiyam) on HIV-positive patients showed a significant increase in immune markers such as CD4 and CD8 cells, and body weight while reducing the viral load.
One of the core concepts in Siddha is “unave marunthu” (Food is medicine). Culinary spices improve digestive health by preventing amam (intestinal autointoxication). Eugenol, a bioactive constituent richly present in more than nine Indian culinary spices such as clove, ginger, turmeric, cumin, pepper, tulsi, nutmeg, mace, thyme, shows anti-inflammatory effects with downregulation of cytokines, immune mediators like IL-1 beta, TNF-alpha, Prostaglandin E2 from LPS stimulated macrophages so as to regulate the acute phase of infection and effectively minimize impending tissue injury.
Siddha dietary recommendations on liberal intake of fruits, vegetables, greens, fibers provide an adequate dose of bio flavanoids such as rutin, quercetin, genistein, hesperidin with the antioxidant property. These are known to improve serum total antioxidant capacity (TAOC), superoxide dismutase activity (SOD), and strengthen humoral and mucosal immunity by increasing the intraepithelial lymphocytes. Regular consumption of probiotics like buttermilk rich in butyrate has immunomodulating effects mediated by signaling pathways like nuclear factor-κB and inhibition of histone deacetylase.
In Siddha, a watchword conveys, “To take fresh ginger in the morning, dried ginger in the afternoon, chebulic myrobalan at evening,” stressing the importance of taking ginger in the morning for disease prevention and kayakalpam effect. Ginger rich in phenolic bioactive compounds shows good antiviral activity against SARS CoV-2 by blocking the (S) spike protein from binding to ACE 2 receptor and inhibition of M Pro enzyme.
The complement system being part of the innate immune system, enhances (complements) the ability of antibodies, phagocytic cells to attack and clear up pathogens. Hepatocytes of the liver produce most of the complement proteins, especially C3 which eliminates pathogens favoring innate immunity. Natural flavanols in herbs regulate the function and survival of hepatocytes both in-vitro and in-vivo strengthening the complement immunity indirectly.
Siddha literatures encourage “Microbial antagonism” through regular use of millets, prebiotics (fiber), probiotics (buttermilk, fermented porridge) for maintenance of healthy gut. The beneficial gut microflora improves the development and function of mucosal T cells subsets, specifically intraepithelial lymphocytes and lamina propria CD 4 T cells. Interestingly the gut microbiome is found to play a significant role in the host viral immune system by regulating the defense mechanisms mainly through enhancement of mucosal barrier function, inhibiting attachment of viral particles to the host, and secreting antiviral antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), bacteriocins and adapting leukocyte function. Curcumin in turmeric (Golden Milk in Siddha) has been found to modulate defective immune cells and pro-inflammatory cytokines in SLE, an autoimmune disorder, showing that Siddha medicine is both restorative as well as rejuvenating helpful in general health as well as disease conditions. Thus immunity is not only prevention of illness but downregulation of exacerbated inflammatory response as well thereby preventing detrimental effects to the host. In this sphere, the role of Siddha medicine is pivotal on integration with Standard Conventional Care.
Research studies validate several constituents of Siddha drugs, Nilavembu kudineer, Kabasura kudineer, Amukkara chooranam, Seenthil chooranam, Nellikkai legiyam, Urai Mathirai, and Adhimathura chooranam for significant antiviral activity and immunomodulating properties. These drugs have been used in the treatment of asymptomatic, mild, and moderate COVID infections in about 65 Standalone Siddha COVID care centers in Tamil Nadu during the second wave. Interim study results show that Siddha drugs such as Amukkura tablet, Kaba Sura Kudineer (KSK), Athimathuram tablet, Adathodai Manappagu syrup, Thippili Rasayanam, Brahmananda Bairavam tablet, and Notchi Kudineer have effectively reduced symptoms of COVID, ushered early recovery without many complications further improving the quality of life during convalescence.
The Siddha research community is actively working in providing robust data on the immunomodulatory and antiviral effects of Siddha drugs through preclinical studies and clinical trials so that the scientific community is appraised on recent testimonials in Siddha medicine for the greater good.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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